The Bristol Lodekka

A Bristol Lodekka bus
From the private collection of Alan Hobden

This is a good photo of an open top ‘Bristol Lodekka’ bus on No 17 Route at the then Palace Pier.

This was one of eight new buses (numbered OPN 801 to 808), most of which I believe were used on No 38 route from Coombe Road to West Street (later Pool Valley) in the normal red and cream Brighton Hove & District livery.

This is a rare photograph as it shows these strange looking buses without the later-fitted front radiator grille. They were new in 1959, the year I moved to Brighton as a nine year old, and served throughout the 60’s

Comments about this page

  • The photo of the cream open topper must have been taken in either 1959 or 1960 as that is when conventional grilles were fitted to these 8 buses. The exceptionally hot summer of 1959 coupled with the stop-start nature of town bus routes resulted in the engine heat entering the buses so this was rectified by fitting conventional radiators. The eight Lodekka buses were revolutionary in that these were low-height buses, i.e. 13ft 8ins instead of 14ft 6ins, and were the first in the UK to offer a totally flat floor on the lower deck within the lower overall height. Two of the red and cream buses, Nos. 7 and 8, still survive in private ownership.

    By Siegmund De Reuther (23/07/2006)
  • Of course there were many later deliveries of Bristol Lodekka buses, totalling 92 eventually. Of these, sixteen were converted to open-top (including two red and cream ones – 53/54. 53 inaugurated the Tour of Brighton in 1964). Twenty were 30′ long front entrance vehicles seating 70, and 16 were short front entrance buses, introduced from 1961. 33 (VAP 33) was the first bus with an illuminated offside advertisement, in its case for the Brighton and Hove Herald. From number 55 onwards, all rear entrance Lodekkas had doors for safety (and warmth!). The open-platform Lodekkas were modified so that part of the platform had low access for the elderly, a first for Brighton. Once Southdown took over the fleet, the Lodekkas were fairly rapidly ousted, some of the later ones going to Scotland in exchange for vehicles of more modern appearance.

    By Martin Nimmo (26/03/2007)
  • I remember my mum and I getting the number 17 open-top all cream bus to Rottingdean before 1959. I was about 7 or 8, so it would have been 1952 or 53. Does anyone remember these buses? I would be interested to know. My e mail address is: gswaller06@aol com.

    By Sandie Waller (08/06/2007)
  • There are a couple of responses to your similar message on the Conway Street, Bus Garage Fire, item. The cream open-toppers were a feature of the Brighton Hove and District fleet from before the Second World War, and certainly very popular until at least the late 1960’s.

    By Martin Nimmo (11/06/2007)
  • I used to catch this number 17 bus with my nan in the 1950s and early 1960s. We would board at the Palace Pier & ride to Rottingdean. Many happy memories of this well loved bus. In fact I have just bought a model version, and am starting a collection of 1950s/60s Brighton buses.

    By Nola Wilson (24/12/2007)
  • There were open-topped cream buses on route 17 from the start in the mid-1930s. They were inaugurated by the then newly formed Brighton Hove and District Company in about 1936, as a tourist attraction, which they certainly were. The initial open-top fleet were AEC Regents, which had entered service some years before with Tillings, the precursor company. Of course, in the 1920’s most buses had been open-topped, but by 1936 it was unusual to have the opportunity to travel “al fresco”!

    By Martin Nimmo (20/03/2008)
  • Can any of you bus experts remember the B&H D bus which turned over in Woodingdean in or about 1955? Have ctc the Argus for info. Please reply to Neil Slade email Many thanks.

    By Neil Slade (15/08/2008)
  • These buses were used into the 1970’s and were used to take outings to the Epsom Derby. I myself in fact drove them. Once whilst going on the route along the seafront at Hove, I was flagged down by a police officer and requested to take him to Hove police station. The passengers were all greatly interested and got their money’s worth. Whilst driving a Lodekker you had to be careful of your wrist watch when engaging the reverse gear or you could damage the glass on the engine cover.

    By Bob Golby (psv KK57891) (20/08/2009)
  • My favourite bus. I was on one of these as it overtook a Leyland “Queen Mary” going UP Coldean Lane. See full story under the Leyland Queen Marys section.

    By David Scott (01/12/2011)
  • I remember the Bristol Lodekka very well. I worked at the Brighton Hove & District bus depot in Conway Street Hove in about 1963 or thereabouts. I was a chassis cleaner in their depot when the buses were due for their five year overhaul. I also drove one of the buses for Harrimonds of the Hyde, Bevendean picking up the girls from work in the morning and taking them home at night. Today looking back life seemed so simple then, but to me at 68 years old life today for people going to work seems fraut with hardships. Best wishes

    By Mick Peirson (01/12/2011)
  • I used to be a conductor on the Lodekka’s back in the ’70s (KK67717), then a driver (KK61660). I had a Sunday service driving the no 17 from King Alfred to Rottingdean and back. If I remember correctly, we used nos 41, 42, 43 and 44. No 42 being the best for speed and not boiling. I worked out of Conway Street from 1975 to 1978, but stayed a member of the social club until I emigrated to Australia in 1990. All the best to all the old crews.

    By Geoff Fleet (26/02/2012)
  • Could anyone tell me what happened to the lodekka’s no; 41 to 44, and also no; 2075 to 2085, I think that was the fleet numbers that were still in service when I was a driver between 1976 and 1979.

    By Geoff Fleet (28/02/2012)

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